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By Hanley Foundation Prevention Specialist Lorrie van Voorthuijsen

When I was a child, one of my family’s traditions was watching the movies that were shown annually on television. Godzilla and King Kong – the old black and white versions – were high on the list. After we got a color TV, another movie added to the list was The Wizard of Oz, usually watched around the holidays.

If you have seen the movie, or know the storyline, you know there are four main characters who are searching for something they already have – Dorothy is trying to return to her home, the Tin Man is longing for a heart, the Scarecrow is desiring a brain, and the Lion is seeking courage. These four heroes already possess these attributes – they simply do not have the self-esteem to recognize their traits.

The “Cowardly” Lion lacked self-esteem because he thought he had no courage. But then he met the Wizard, who showed the Lion his true self. In his speech, the Wizard said, “You are a victim of disorganized thinking!  You are under the unfortunate delusion that simply because you run away from danger, you have no courage. You are confusing courage with wisdom!”* 

The Lion is then given the Triple Cross – a medal proclaiming his “meritorious conduct, extraordinary valor, [and] conspicuous bravery!”*  We also see a snippet of Lion’s innate courage in his “If I Were King of the Forest” song when he sings “Though my tail would lash, I would show compash…for every underling!”**  Courage, like compassion, is a matter of the heart.

These four character traits of Courage, displayed by Oz’s Cowardly Lion throughout the movie, make up the Heart of Courage – commendable behavior, exceptional boldness, notable moral strength, and empathy for contemporaries. In Session 4 of the Active Parenting series, parents will discover how to help their children build courage and self-esteem; they will do this by intentionally encouraging their children instead of inadvertently discouraging them. These parents will begin a new tradition, rousing the courage and self-esteem secreted inside, that their children, like the Lion, already possess. . . All this, without the wizardry! Please join us!

* – speech of the Wizard of Oz

** – “If I Were the King of the Forest” song from movie